How to Select the Right Documentation Management System for Your Organization

Gone are the days when filing cabinets were used to file documents. Technology has made life in the workplace much easier. It is easier to scan to pdf than to physically file hundreds of documents.

Documentation management in any organization is critical. Keeping track of all documents is hard without having a system in place. It ultimately decreases the organization’s efficiency and puts it at risk. Every organization must have a documentation management system which:

  • Reduces costs of operation
  • Improves overall information access
  • Protects vital information
  • Reduces risks of litigation

A documentation management system seeks to make life in your organization much easier. There are hundreds of vendors selling documentation management system, but how do you know how to select the best one? 

What Is A Documentation Management System?

A document management system is an electronic filing system any organization can use to organize all their paper and digital records. You can scan to pdf any paper documents and upload them directly into your system. The system users can enter tags and metadata for the organization of all the stored data. Most documentation systems software has an in-built search engine which lets a user navigate all stored documents for access to a particular file. When it comes to sensitive data, most systems have settings that restrict anyone from accessing the information without a password. Some documentation systems features include:

  • Storing different types of documents such as PDFs, spreadsheets and PDFs
  • Asking for permission to access certain documents
  • Access to information via keyword
  • Ability to see which users accessed which document
  • Tools to track edits and recover older versions of the same document
  • Regulation tools which determine when a document is obsolete and should be deleted
  • Support for mobile devices that allows a user to access, edit and share documents

There are several tips to consider when choosing a documentation systems Vendor

1.   Your Organizational Needs

Choosing the right documentation system boils down to being able to accurately pinpoint your organization’s needs. You also need to decide on the mode of storage, either on-premises or cloud-based. 

  • On-Premises

If you decide to go for an on-premises documentation management system, then you need to make sure you have the capability. This means having your own servers, storage, and your own maintenance. Since in this case you are solely responsible for all your data, back up is critical.

Ideally, this option is more sensible for large organizations that have vast IT resources. This system has more demands technically but it hands you one on one control over your system .Software updates and technical support from vendors are available depending on how often you renew your annual subscription packages.

The biggest advantage of the on-premises documentation system is that you have direct control of your system. You do not need a third party to keep it up and running. Its downside is the cost of running it and yearly software updates. The responsibility of keeping data safe is yours as your data isn’t saved on the cloud. Every document you scan to PDF or other formats is saved directly to your servers.

  • Cloud-Based 

This system is hosted by a provider who is responsible for keeping your data safe. The provider does this for a monthly or annual fee. The information is available to you via the internet. This system’s advantage is that you don’t need a technical team to maintain it.

Since the information is already online, you can easily access it anywhere, any time.  The greatest disadvantage is that you are literally at your provider’s mercy. If the provider is experiencing a problem, you have to wait until they are up and running to access your data.

If your internet is experiencing problems, you cannot access your files. Cloud storage, unfortunately, has limited storage limitations. You have to buy more space when you exhaust your allocated space.

2.   Choose the Right Documentation System Vendor

Your experience with Documentation systems depends on the vendor you choose. Do your due diligence and go for a reputable system vendor. Make sure the vendor has several products and good credibility from clients. 

Avoid at all costs vendors who promise the world and offer systems that claim to be one size fits all, and at very low prices. Remember, cheap is expensive. Make a list of questions and detailed organizational needs. Review these questions with vendors and do response and price comparisons before you settle. For me the Filecenter DMS works fine on this particular point if you’re unable to locate perfect vendor.

3.   Look for the Simplest Interface

The system you settle for should offer the user an intuitive User Interface (UI) that is easily navigated. You might settle for a powerful system, but whose UI is complex and frustrating to its users.

Look for a system that offers a simple user experience. It should be efficient with clear commands and a clear but simple design. After the first training, the users should be comfortable with the UI. Choose a few individuals with mastery of the system and how to get the most out of it.

4.   Manage the Flow of Work

An electronic document management system works as more than just a digitalized filing cabinet. The best systems operate as workflow managers. The keep your organization’s projects running smoothly. Choose s Documentation System that incorporates project management into its features. Ensure that the chosen platform has enough scalability in line with your organizational growth. The software needs to be able to adapt as per the organization’s growth. I found this article very informativefrom the business point of view and you should read it.

5.   Select a System with Integration Capabilities

Your documentation System has to be very flexible and able to fully integrate with the software system you currently. This enables you to seamlessly switch between applications. Ensure your new documentation system is in sync with the rest of your programs. A social intranet can provide you with an all-inclusive solution. It merges communications, document management, and scheduling into one platform.

6.   Intelligent Data Capture

The best documentation management system captures data from different input devices. Once you scan to PDF or whichever format, the system should be intelligent enough to extract and confirm the data. The software then tags and categorizes information for easy retrieval via a search engine. This search engine must be easy to use, thus conserving time and enhancing productivity. Many documentation systems claim to have the ability to capture data intelligently, but few deliver. Monitor the system carefully and make sure the selected system interprets data properly.

7.   Make Security a Priority

Data breaches in the past have emphasized the importance of protecting your organization’s data. Protect your clients’ information with a system that incorporates tough security procedures designed to prevent attacks from hackers and malware.

A reputable system vendor makes sure that security is a major feature in all their products. You, however, have to update and monitor your security levels against threats. Make sure you inquire from your vendor on the security update frequency. Also, ask them how they intend to notify you about the changes.

8.   Choose a System with Administrative Controls

Other than threats from external sources, it is imperative that you also protect your files internally. This is done by using software with options for administrative control. Set the system with user restrictions with each tailored to individual needs of the staff.

Depending on their ranks, some staff members require read-access only while others higher up need authority to delete or move files.  You need to incorporate a standard file for reference when recruiting new staff. Staff working on short contracts also need to be given temporary access depending on rank.

9.   Check and Confirm Support Services

While shopping around for a vendor, make sure you go for one that is renowned for their top notch after sales support. It could be in the form of online chat, email or telephone calls option. Before you purchase the product, ask about the turnaround for requests on support.

 Make sure their support is prompt. You might ignore to ask such a critical question and find out at the last minute they take 24 hours to process a support inquiry. Also, ask about the vendor’s prices for support in case there are hidden charges.

10.Back Up

The importance of back up cannot be overemphasized. You must make sure you back up all your business data. Go for a product that features continuous back-ups on top security servers. The document management system should have a back-up capability that is part of your recovery formula.

Conclusion

Choosing the right documentation management system can prove to be a challenge. You must take total responsibility for your search by understanding your organizational needs. You must also determine whether your organization is self-sufficient and can store its own data, or you want to take the option of online cloud back up. Find out the full scope of what is available in terms of software choices. A social intranet which incorporates calendaring, communication and document management is also an option.

Choose a renowned vendor who has a proven track record in providing superior products. Prioritize security and data backup. Doing this will ensure you are covered from every end of the spectrum. 

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